Some recounts in House races may be challenged

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(Host) According to the Secretary of State’s office, the official tabulation of five legislative recounts shows no change from the winners on Election Day. Still, there’s a possibility that some of the recounts may be challenged.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) There’s been a lot of attention focused on the recounts because the make up of the Vermont House is very close and changing the results of one district could affect the race for speaker. In January there will be 74 Republicans, 69 Democrats, four Progressives and three Independents.

Last Friday the Progressives announced their support for Democrat John Tracy in the speaker’s race. Tracy says he’s confident that he’ll be elected by holding on to all the Democrats and picking up two of the independents. Incumbent Republican Speaker Walter Freed is just as confident of victory. Freed thinks he’ll attract some Democrats to his campaign.

Nine races for the House are being officially recounted. Five have been completed, two will take this week and two more during the first week of December. State Elections Director Kathy Dewolfe says none of the first five challenges have been successful in overturning the results from Election Day:

(DeWolfe) “In the recounts that have taken place so far, there have been no changes in the winners.”

(Kinzel) Some of the losing candidates are considering an appeal of the results of the recount based on irregular voting practices and they may ask for a new election. If they do seek a new election, DeWolfe says that appeal will have to be made to the new members of the House. DeWolfe says the state’s court system doesn’t have jurisdiction in these cases:

(DeWolfe) “They go to the House of Representatives if it’s a state rep race, which this year all of the recounts were. Or they would go to the Senate if it’s a Senate race. There was a change in the legislation that requires that, after a court case in the 80s where someone went to court and they said that based on the constitutional separation of powers, the House and the Senate have to be the judge of their own elections.”

(Host) DeWolfe says the last time the Legislature was asked to decide a recount appeal was in 1996 when incumbent Rutland County senator Tom MacCauley challenged his two vote loss. In that case the full Senate voted to uphold the victory of challenger Hull Maynard.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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